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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Jump With Refinancing
by Tom Moeller   September 28, 2011

Low interest rates continue to generate strength in the mortgage loan market. The total index of mortgage applications jumped 9.3% last week to 767.9 (March 16, 1990 = 100). That followed a 10.0% rise during the prior week which was very much upwardly revised. Overall, applications have risen more-than 80% since their early year low. The jump has come as lower interest rates spurred refinancing.

Applications to refinance have more-than doubled since April and they rose 11.2% last week. That's on the heels of a 13.5% gain during the prior week. Weekly applications to purchase a home rose 2.6% w/w. They're more-than-10% above the August low but still off almost two-thirds versus before the recession.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages held near the record low at 3.58%. The effective rate on 30-year fixed rate loans fell to a new low of 4.35%. On a 30-year Jumbo the effective rate was 4.62%. Though it's narrowed slightly of late, the spread between 15- and 30-year loan rates continued wide by historical standards. The effective interest rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage slipped to 3.13% versus 3.65% at the beginning of the year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association surveys between 20 to 35 of the top lenders in the U.S. housing industry to derive its refinance, purchase and market indexes. The weekly survey covers roughly 50% of all U.S. residential mortgage applications processed each week by mortgage banks, commercial banks and thrifts. The figures for weekly mortgage applications are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 9/23/11 9/16/11 9/9/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 767.9 702.7 638.7 -2.1 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 176.6 172.2 170.8 -2.9 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 4,239.6 3,813.2 3,361.0 -1.1 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.58 3.57 3.69 4.15
4.39 4.85 5.88
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